Category Archives: HBO Max

How HBO Max May Prompt Me To Get A Bigger TV

TCL 6-Series (55R625, 65R625) QLED TV Review - Reviewed

In general, I try to budget my money carefully when it comes to big purchases. By big, I don’t mean things you’d splurge on like fancy shoes, custom suits, jewelry, or a lap dance at a strip club. Those are more akin to casual indulgences. There’s nothing wrong with those in moderation.

For me, a single guy who has a mortgage and his own place, major purchases tend to involve large appliances and utility upgrades. Those upgrades can be expensive. One of the biggest purchases I had to make after buying my place was a new HVAC system. That purchase cost thousands. I had to taper some indulgences, as a result.

It was still worth doing. I feel like those purchases have paid for themselves many times over, in terms of quality of life. That’s how I gauge every major purchase. If it has an overall positive effect on quality of life, then it’s worth budgeting for. I learned in college that sometimes you need to endure a few nights of Ramen noodles before you can enjoy a good steak dinner.

This brings me to what could be my next major purchase. Earlier this year, I had a few things in mind that I considered saving for. My plan was to re-evaluate my priorities around the summer before I made a choice. Well, after watching Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” those plans may have changed.

These past few weeks, I’ve documented how watching these movies as they debut on HBO Max has changed the way I’ve consumed new movies. I think it’s safe to say that my approach to viewing new movies has changed in a big way. Now, when a new movie is set to come out, I’ll have to weigh whether I want to see it in a theater or create my own experience at home.

I’ll be facing that choice quite a bit this year. Warner Brothers and HBO Max have a very promising slate of movies. Some of these were movies I planned on seeing in theaters. Now, after “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I’m not so sure. To complicate the choice even more, I’m no considering a major upgrade to my living room in the form of a new TV.

At the moment, I have a 55-inch HDTV that has served me well for about five years. It’s not the highest end TV, but it gets the job done. It has seen me through multiple NFL seasons and plenty superhero movie marathons. However, I know I’ll have to upgrade at some point. With more and more content coming out in 4K, the incentives are there and growing.

However, given my recent efforts to re-create the theater experience in my living room, those incentives increased considerably. After watching “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I really felt the limits of my current TV. It still looks great and thanks to the sound bar I bought a couple years ago, the sound felt very similar to that of a movie theater.

The only thing that didn’t quite match that experience was the screen itself. It was good, but not great. For that reason, a newer, larger TV might very well be the kind of major purchase that pays off big time, in terms of quality of life. It may ultimately change even more how I determine whether I’ll see a new movie in a theater or at home.

Before this year, a new TV was a low priority for me. It’s not that I don’t want a bigger, better TV in general. I just didn’t see much value, given how few shows or events are broadcast in 4K. That may be changing, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough to justify the cost.

For me, the tipping point was whether NFL games would be broadcast in 4K. Thus far, that hasn’t happened. I was waiting until that announcement became official before I got serious about a new TV. Now, I don’t think sports are the tipping point anymore. HBO Max has suddenly changed the whole value structure for a new TV.

It’s exciting. I love the idea of being able to watch new movies on HBO Max or some other streaming service on a bigger, better TV. Whenever the NFL or baseball joins the 4K party, then that’ll only add to the value.

There’s still a real chance that I might find there’s a limit to recreating the movie experience in my living room. Once the novelty wears off, I might find there’s just now re-creating that theater or IMAX experience. No matter what I do to my living room, it just can’t measure up. I’m prepared to accept that outcome, should that be the case.

On the other hand, there’s also a chance I might recreate that experience a bit too well. If I get a good enough TV with a good enough picture, then going to the movies might end up being a last resort instead of an option. If I find that the experience in my living room is more enjoyable than any movie theater, then that will be my first choice for new movies.

That raises the stakes even more for this new TV. For once, it’s not just about seeking a better way to watch football games. It’s about turning my living room into something that can recreate that cinematic experience in the best possible way.

I’ll certainly keep everyone updated on this effort. As of this writing, I haven’t made any purchases, nor have I set a date for making one. For now, I’m just focusing on budgeting my money appropriately so that when the time comes, I’ll be ready to take that plunge. If anyone has any tips or insights into creating that special theatrical experience in their living room, please share it in the comments. Like any major purchase, I value the expertise and experiences of others. If all goes well, then I hope to be watching “The Matrix 4” on an awesome new TV by Christmas this year.

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“Mortal Kombat” Review: Mortally Mediocre, But With Future Potential

For years, it was difficult to get too excited about movies based on video games. To say the track record of those movies is sub-par would be exceedingly generous. Unlike superhero movies, there weren’t any real gems that set too high a bar. There was no classic 1978 style “Superman” to point to as a gold standard or even a high point from a previous era.

By and large, video game movies have always sucked. I say that as someone who saw multiple “Resident Evil” movies in theaters. Trust me. That money would’ve been better spent renting the old games.

However, that finally seemed to change last year with the success of “Sonic The Hedgehog.” For the first time, a movie based on a video game was genuinely enjoyable for both casual movie-goers and fans of the game. It captured the spirit of the characters, told a compelling story, and was generally entertaining from start to finish.

Now, video game franchises have an example in which a movie based on a game didn’t suck. It gave me real hope that this could start a large trend. Finally, when Hollywood decides to make a movie based on a popular video game, we don’t have to assume it’ll be awful, underwhelming, or a wasted opportunity.

That’s why I dared myself to have high hopes for “Mortal Kombat.” When I saw the first trailer, I felt like this movie had the right look, effects, and story capture everything that makes this franchise so iconic. It was distinctly different from the previous two movies that came out in the 1990s. Those movies were cheesy as hell and did plenty to water down the violence.

Hell, just look at how Goro was portrayed. It has not aged well.

This movie had a chance to embrace the bloody, brutal aesthetics to the utmost. As such, this legendary fighting game, known for its graphic violence and pissing off certain politicians, was in a good position to further the trend that “Sonic The Hedgehog” started. I made it a point to set up my living room, just as I did for Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” to take it all in. I went into this movie with a hopeful optimism that I never once dared for a video game movie.

Unfortunately, I think I might have been too optimistic.

I’ll even go a step further. I may have let my love of “Sonic The Hedgehog” make me forget how difficult it is to translate a video game franchise into a movie.

That’s because, by and large, I was very underwhelmed by “Mortal Kombat.” It wasn’t awful. This movie was certainly no “Super Mario Brothers.” It was just so frustratingly mediocre. The basics are there, but not much more than that. If you were expecting something bigger, bolder, or innovative with this movie, you’re going to be disappointed.

In terms of the story, there won’t be any surprises to those with a passing familiarity of Mortal Kombat lore. For centuries, there has been a secret tournament featuring the best fighters in all of Earthrealm and Outworld. The forces of Outworld, led by Shang Tsunge and Shoa Khan, seek to invade and conquer Earthrealm. In order to achieve this, they need to win one more tournament.

There’s actually a lot more history and complexity to that story, which the games have masterfully fleshed out over the years. However, there’s none of that in this movie. For the most part, it only tells first parts of that story with just a handful of familiar characters.

Plenty of the classics are there, such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, Jax, Kano, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Raiden. The problem is they’re really no the driving force of that story. It’s mostly driven by Cole Young, who is not a character from any of the games. While he is a descendant of Scorpion, his story is just so plain and generic. He’s basically a Diet-Scorpion, minus the flaming skull and hell-warrior persona.

In other words, Cole lacks pretty much all of Scorpion’s most awesome traits. Yet, the movie gives him the most screen time?

I’ve got nothing against Cole. He was a decent catalyst for the events of the movie. He just was not that interesting. He was not someone who would get lifelong Mortal Kombat fans excited. If anything the opening sequence that told Scorpion’s origin story comes off as an elaborate misdirect.

You thought you were going to see Scorpion’s story play out in this movie? Well, you’re mistaken. He doesn’t show up again until the end and he’s basically just a Deus Ex Machina for the plot. As someone who wasted many quarters playing Scorpion in the arcades back in the 1990s, I felt like he deserved better.

On top of that, Cole being the protagonist basically ensured this movie did a lot of telling rather than showing. He just gets dragged along the plot with other characters basically telling him everything he needs to know about Mortal Kombat. There’s not much in terms of world-building or exploration. It’s just some exposition followed by some brutal fight scenes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those fight scenes are awesome. They’re probably the best part of this movie. They’re much better done than previous Mortal Kombat movies and the R-rating ensures nothing is watered down. You do get to see blood, gore, and bodily entrails, not unlike those of an appropriately brutal fatality from the game. That much, this movie gets right. It just doesn’t get much more right beyond than that.

It’s also very clear from the ending that this movie is meant to set up future movies. At this moment, no sequel has been confirmed. Given the scale and breadth of Mortal Kombat, as a franchise, I think it needs to be multiple movies. You just can’t fit the whole story into one film. This movie didn’t try to do that, but it still feels like it could’ve done a lot more to stand on its own.

After watching it, it still left me wanting to see the sequel. However, I doubt I’ll go into that movie with the same hopeful optimism I did with this one. If I had to score “Mortal Kombat,” I would give it a 2 out of 5 at most. It’s one of those movies that’s not worth going to the theaters to see, but still worth watching on premium cable or a streaming service.

In that sense, I’m very thankful that HBO Max made it available. That saved me the cost of a movie ticket and overpriced snacks.

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